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Why are French children born in 2010 being bullied online?

France's education minister on Friday urged teachers to be vigilant after a bizarre cyber-harassment campaign erupted among school students targeting those born in 2010.

Why are French children born in 2010 being bullied online?
Illustration photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP.

The viral hashtag #anti2010 has alarmed parents because it involves 10- and 11-year-olds in sixth grade – which marks the all-important entry into secondary school.

The origins of the insults and online threats are unclear but appear to have emerged on the TikTok video sharing platform that is hugely popular with young people, possibly in response to video games.

“The warm welcome of sixth grade students and their successful integration thanks to their classmates and adults are an essential issue of school life,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said in a letter to school heads, urging them to “reinforce vigilance” on the issue.

In a video posted on Twitter, he said families could report such harassment on an emergency hotline and that any pupil behind such bullying would be subject to punishment.

His intervention came after the main federation of school parents, the FCPE, urged the government on Wednesday to “act urgently… as children born in 2010 have become the target of a campaign of insults, harassment and cyber-harassment”.

“Even if a large number of children do not use the platforms, for those who spend time there it is obvious that their mental and psychological health is in real danger,” it said.

French media have said the phenomenon has seen older children mocking those born in 2010, criticising their dress and tastes as immature and uncool.

The Lille-based Voix du Nord daily spoke to one young pupil in northern France after her mother complained on Twitter that her daughter, born in 2010, feared going to school because of the insults.

“I’m not on social networks, but I go often to the skatepark and the older kids keep telling us 2010s are going to get hit and insulted when we go to school on Monday because of videos on TikTok,” Julie, 11, told the newspaper.

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SCHOOLS

EXPLAINED: French summer holiday rules for school children

Summer holidays officially begin for school children across France on July 7th this year. Some parents may be considering taking their children out before this date but this can be risky.

EXPLAINED: French summer holiday rules for school children

The summer holidays are fast approaching – no doubt to the excitement of your children. 

Some families may consider taking their child out of school prior to the official start of the holidays, which this year is July 7th. But this is illegal in most circumstances and could land you a €135 fine. For repeated offences that compromise the education of your child, the maximum penalty is a 2-year prison sentence and a €30,000 fine. 

The law states: “When a child misses class, the people responsible for them must inform the director of the educational establishment straight away of the motives for this absence”. 

You can pull your child out of school early if you get your hands on an autorisation d’absence – an authorisation to be absent. 

The following reasons are legal routes you could use to receive an autorisation d’absence from the school.

  • Illness (either of the child or someone in the family who could be contagious) – if your child has an infectious disease, you will need to get a letter from a doctor to show to the school;
  • An important family event (a marriage or a funeral for example);
  • Difficulty getting to school because of an accident that happened during the journey there;
  • The child has to follow their legal representatives. 

This last point is vague enough that some parenting forums online suggest it can be used to justify pulling your child out of school early to go on holiday. In any case – any “motive” you give will have to be approved by the school. 

If you want to use some other reason to pull your child out of school early, you will need to explain this to the school director who will then treat your request on a case by case basis. 

These rules apply to any child registered in a primary school, middle school or high school in France. 

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